• Garissa university, being the only fully-fledged university in Northeastern, has made immense strides in returning to normalcy,
• The local population in Garissa has embraced community engagement and collaboration with the multi-agency security teams
As we commemorate eight years since the Garissa University attack, government and community efforts in building resilience cannot be gainsaid.
Like a phoenix, we rose from the ashes and put measures in place to prevent and counter violent extremism. The university, being the only fully-fledged university in Northeastern, has made immense strides in returning to normalcy, with the enhancement of security, the ongoing construction and renovation and pedagogically, with the opening of the Institute of Peace and Security studies.
It is undeniable that academia plays a pivotal role in preventing and countering violent extremism by addressing the injustices that push the youth into violent extremism as well as supporting students in making responsible choices. Garissa university is leading in this regard.
It recently held the Northeastern Innovation week, which aimed at tapping the unique potential of the region by encouraging innovation for constructive gain. This is a laudable move that will not only foster innovation but also nurture entrepreneurship, which is key in enhancing the livelihoods of youth thereby reducing their recruitment into terror outfits.
The university’s efforts complement those by local leadership to improve education in the county. Fafi MP Farah Yakub and the local administration have actively been encouraging school enrolment by mobilizing children to go to school. They are alive to the fact that academic inclusivity and empowerment is necessary for students to have a sense of hope and purpose as well as a feeling of belonging and a respect for differences.
The local population in Garissa has embraced community engagement and collaboration with the multi-agency security teams has led to a significant decrease in the number of attacks in this border town.
The elders in particular have fostered a good working relationship with the authorities to flush out these militants and bring to book their sympathizers who are frustrating and disrupting development projects in this vast county.
In addition, improved border patrol and surveillance by these elite security teams along the vast and porous Kenya-Somalia border has been key in curtailing al Shabaab movement across borders.
A people-centric approach has taken center-stage for sustainable peace and development with programs and initiatives from local non-governmental organizations such as ‘Vijana Tuzuie Balaa’ project in Lamu and Garissa that are aimed at addressing radicalization and violent extremism.
This project is focusing on the need for community and security agencies collaborations to counter and prevent violent extremism as well as promote trust in information sharing and reporting of suspicious people and activities.
Development in this county has also been a huge contributor in its bouncing back from Kenya’s deadliest attack since the US embassy hit in Nairobi in 1998. The completion of the Lapsset port and road will spur immense economic growth, which will deny these rag-tag militias cannon fodder by providing immense opportunities for the youth.
This transnational road that will lead to Garissa, Isiolo, Ethiopia and South Sudan is the goose that laid the golden egg in helping this border town shake the stigma and aftermath of the Garissa university attack.
The Lapsset Corridor Programme is Eastern Africa’s most ambitious tri-national project. In addition, the Bura-Garissa road, which will connect Tana River and Kilifi counties, will also address the menace that is the planting of IEDs.
Improvised explosive devices are still a thorn in our ultimate goal of winning the war on terror. The fast tracking of the construction of the 160km Garissa- Liboi road will also greatly reduce IED attacks targeted at security personnel, improve security and mobility and profoundly contribute to the urbanization of the region since al Shabaab elements have been taking advantage of poor roads to launch attacks, jeopardizing the economy of the region.
The Garissa Solar power plant is also another key development that will improve the lives and livelihoods of the people by sustainably electrifying the local population hence bringing development and spurring the growth of many sectors.
There lies a huge potential in Garissa county, especially with the application of Somalia to join the East Africa Community. Upon Somalia’s ratification, Garissa will be the gateway of business between Somalia and the rest of the East African member states.
This exemplifies that Garissa over the years has made strategic strides towards driving the national economy through its many concerted efforts to recover from the aftermath of the attack.
As we continue to secure the country, efforts by Garissa university, the county and the national governments to reduce terror attacks are commendable and a huge step in ultimately winning the war on terror.